William Hill Press Room
1960s HORSERACING THRILLER SCOOPS 25TH BOOKIE PRIZE
Winner of the £25,000 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2013 announced
A “perfectly paced” account of one of the biggest doping scandals in British horseracing history has this evening (27th November) been announced as the winner of the 25th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the richest and most prestigious literary sports-writing prize in the world.
Jamie Reid’s Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960s Racehorse Doping Gang, tells the tale of crooked bookie Bill Roper (‘Roper the Doper’), his beautiful Swiss mistress Micheline Lugeon, and their elaborate scheme to fix horse races in the early 1960s. Working from their Notting Hill headquarters, Roper and his gang made millions by modern standards; no horse in the country was safe from being ‘nobbled’, and it was only when they breached the stable of the Queen Mother’s trainer that Scotland Yard were called in and The Flying Squad embarked on a nationwide hunt to catch them.
Described by the judges as “an absolutely thrilling read”, Reid was praised for his masterly research into the subject, and his skilful handling of the lengthy cast of characters, which extends from stable hands and gangland kingpins to members of high society.
William Hill spokesman, and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said: “Jamie Reid’s brilliantly constructed book lures the reader into his masterly recreation of late 50s/early 60s England in which social class counted for far more than workplace competence. Nowhere more so than in the historically class-ridden world of horseracing. ‘Toffs’ ruled the roost in outwardly posh, yet archaic, stables and racecourse stewards’ rooms, but were constantly at financial and social war with cunning, street-wise, working-class ‘bookies’, who were tolerated only as outlets for personal wagers, the settling of which was frequently lax when losing.
“This background, generously scattered with sex and drugs and royalty, is the setting for a perfectly researched, paced and plotted unravelling of probably the most shocking, cynical, sustained attempt to dope – sometimes fatally – innocent racehorses and endanger jockeys for personal gain, to come to light in the 500 year history of the sport of Kings, Queens and commoners.”
Jamie Reid, a lifelong punter and racing enthusiast, writes a regular column for the Financial Times, and is also the author of A Licence to Print Money: Journey Through the Gambling and Bookmaking World (nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in 1992), and the novels Easy Money and Home on the Range. Announced as winner of the 2013 Award by judge John Inverdale, live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme, at the Hospital Club in central London, he now joins the likes of Nick Hornby, Duncan Hamilton, Donald McRae and Paul Kimmage in the William Hill Sports Book Award hall of fame.
The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £25,000 cheque, the winning author will receive a £2,500 William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races.
The judging panel for this year’s Award consists of: broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd of The Times. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the Award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.
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